The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Board of Directors has taken the first step toward receiving nearly $1.5 billion in Los Angeles County transit grants through the federal American Rescue Plan.

The board voted to approve the allocation, which includes $1.465 billion for the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim Urbanized Area, $16 million for the Santa Clarita Urbanized Area and $1.666 million for the Lancaster-Palmdale Urbanized Area.

The funds for the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region will be divided among agencies by the Southern California Association of Governments, and are in addition to $1.068 billion in transit grants allocated to the county in March 2020 by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act, and $911 million allocated in December 2020 through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

“I’m really glad Metro is taking a first step towards receiving the funding, which is so incredibly important to us as we move forward as an organization,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board of Directors Chair Hilda Solis.

Solis said the funds would first be used to ensure the agency continues “its baseline operations,” but added that any excess funding should be used to help “communities that have been most impacted by the pandemic, that means again the Black and Latinx communities.”

In March, Metro announced that the American Rescue Plan dollars would allow the agency to return to pre-pandemic levels by September. The agency initially anticipated service to return to regular levels by September 2022. Michelle Navarro of Metro’s Office of Management and Budget, said Metro must disburse the funds by Sept. 30, 2029.

The board will begin discussing how to spend the money in the beginning of 2022 in time for the 2022-23 fiscal year budget, Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins said.